Friday, November 24, 2017

The Traditionalist Appeal

One of the potential points of attraction for Anglicanorum coetibus has been the idea that some cradle Catholics would be drawn to the pre-Conciliar style of worship imported to the Church from Anglo-Catholicism, although the Roman style in Anglicanism dates only from the mid-19th century and must be considered an affectation. In fact, far from being "treasures" of the "patrimony", many of these traditions violate the XXXIX Articles, and the use of Roman vestments was made illegal when introduced. A visitor noted some weeks ago:
I think honestly, most of the Catholics drawn to the old school type rituals propagated by the Ordinariate, both those celebrating the Mass and those assisting at Mass, are big fans of the traditions of kneeling at an altar rail and receiving communion on the tongue.
So there might be hope, in light of the disappointing reaction of Anglicans themselves to the project, that traditionalist Catholics might make up the difference. But the same visitor in a later e-mail sees reason for caution:
I was thinking about your blog and wondering why Pope John Paul II (who essentially created the Pastoral Provision in 1983) was so reticent to move to the Ordinariate stage, why Pope Benedict XVI pulled the trigger, and subsequently, why Pope Francis hasn’t pulled the plug. It seems to me a case study in skepticism, optimism and opportunism. Taking the first two, I liken Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict to Sts. Peter and Paul. Both were very holy men with very different temperaments and very different methods of how to achieve personal holiness. Both are necessary to understand the fullness of our faith, one through outward, physical expression, one through inward, spiritual contemplation.

When it comes to the Ordinariate, I think JPII saw the worldly problems of expecting whole Protestant communities jumping ship. (America was founded by protestants and that pretty much embodies the American Way—nobody tells Americans what to do and Americans want to vote on everything, that is why is is soooo hard to be Catholic in America. Protestant communities around the world have a very similar outlook, they also want to have their cake and eat it too!) I suspect JPII thought independent-minded groups giving up their power and independence just wasn’t realistic.

I think Pope Benedict saw the potential for enormous spiritual growth of groups of Christian brethren and did not want to be a barrier on their way, even at the risk of looking personally foolish.

So then we get to Pope Francis. What’s his deal? Only time will tell, but I suspect he is simply taking advantage of the opportunity to have it both ways. If large groups of protestants begin to convert, he is a hero. Or, Pope Francis’ background with Liberation Theology ( I know he has officially condemned it, but he still has a nasty penchant to praise socialism and denounce capitalism) gives him a different take on things official. Sometimes, communists set up freedom type traps to see who jumped into them. That way, the officials could see who was disloyal by having them essentially out themselves. Given Pope Francis’ obvious dislike for the faithful who exhibit Pharisee-like qualities, leaving the Ordinariates as a place for more troublesome traditionalists to jump into may not be a bad thing in his eyes.

Maybe it’s both ways. Who knows? Maybe my tinfoil hat needs adjustment.

I know a few visitors here have a suspicion that some of the traditionalist Catholics -- and they are certainly few -- who come to OCSP groups-in-formation are people who've made themselves unwelcome in diocesan parishes. A bottom-line issue is that, as we seem to see with the California groups, they so far aren't supporting them sufficiently in pledges to let them move to permanent quarters. Liking something on social media is one thing, writing a check is another. This is a theme to which Fr Z constantly returns; if you want something, go to the bishop with concrete proposals and money.

This may be another take on having things both ways.